Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

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Faith of a Skeptic – Faith Matters

I don’t think what we call religion can be put into a box neatly labeled religion and relegated to one part of the academic curriculum or one area of journalism. It seems to me that one of the lessons of 9/11 is that the influence of religion is virtually limitless and ubiquitous, and the sooner we figure that out, the wiser we’ll be.

Faith of a Skeptic – Faith Matters (

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Schwarzenegger says he will declare fiscal emergency

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday said he would declare a fiscal emergency in California so he and state lawmakers can start cutting programs before shrinking tax revenue from the collapsed housing market leaves the state with up to a $14 billion shortfall over the next year-and-a-half.

The emergency will likely mean cuts to schools, colleges, prisons and aid programs for the poor, elderly, and out-of-work that have already spent nearly half their promised funding for the year.

Schwarzenegger says he will declare fiscal emergency

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Priests are happy without wives

I never have been able to understand lay folk who are obsessed with the abolition of celibacy. It may well be an appropriate modification of the church in a time when most American young men do not find the priesthood an attractive way to spend their life. However, a cursory reading of the research literature on the personal and professional satisfaction among the clergy and reports from the spouses and children of Protestant (and Greek Orthodox and rabbinic) clergy indicates that family relations are an enormous problem for many of them. In addition to the usual problems of spouse and children to which all humans must respond, married clergy are subjected to pressures from their parishioners (who often assume that the spouse is an unpaid member of the parish team) and ecclesiastical authority who often assume that ministerial families must be like Caesar’s wife — beyond reproach in every way.
Priests are happy without wives :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Andrew Greeley

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American Obesity Epidemic May Have Topped Out

Obesity prevalence among African-American women was shockingly high — more than 50% for those ages 20 to 59 and topping 60% for those ages 60 and over compared with 32% of non-Hispanic white women and 37% of Mexican-American women. Obesity rates were lowest for non-Hispanic whites in most age and sex categories.

Among men, however, the prevalence of obesity did not differ significantly by race/ethnic groups.

Medical News: American Obesity Epidemic May Have Topped Out – in Primary Care, Weight Management Source: MedPage Today

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Buddhism and Christmas

With Thanksgiving having passed by recently, Americans are all gearing up for Xmas. Buddhism is a religion that doesn’t necessarily have any strict holidays, instead Buddhism blends into local cultures. There are some general holidays in Buddhism such as:

    * The Buddha’s Birthday, typically in spring (called Hanamatsuri in Japanese).
    * Bodhi Day, or Enlightenment Day, happens in early December and celebrates the awakening of the Buddha.

Beyond this though, most holidays are specific to sects, cultures, etc. So, being an American, who did from a Christian background as a kid, I have to wonder what I will do for Christmas.

Buddhism and Christmas « The Level 8th Buddhist


Two Lessons

They took my Aunt Theresa off life support yesterday. She had a good time on her last day, with reason to be very proud of her granddaughter, and died in the arms of a loved one. It was time to let go of the shell, and her family made the right decision. She is no longer there. At some point today or tomorrow her body will stop breathing, and this part of her journey will officially be over. The details of her departure don’t matter.

What does matter are the lessons to be learned. Continue reading

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A rural Minnesota football team excels on – and off – the field

Argyle, Minn. – Farming is life here in Marshall County, where sugar beets and wheat grow thick across the flat landscape and small towns simply grow smaller. But in the midst of the troubles that plague much of rural America, two neighboring villages here take great pride in something that is forever etched in the ethics of work, play, and praise.

Football. More specifically, nine-man football. Kids from the towns of Stephen (population 708) and Argyle (656) attend Stephen-Argyle High School, which has become synonymous in Minnesota and the upper Midwest with championship small-town football.

A rural Minnesota football team excels on – and off – the field |

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Odd One Out

My friend Valerie has written something wonderful.

I was responding to a friend I made online yesterday, a few minutes ago. When I got done, I looked back over the email and thought to myself,

“I ought to stick this in a column.” Thus, here we are.

She was telling me about her family; how all of her brothers are on varying levels of the autistic spectrum, and how she’s the odd one because she’s not.

So, being that I’m the Odd One Out and all, I thought I’d respond. Oh, and the reason for the interest in the autistic spectrum is because I recently got diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome. It sure makes things click a lot better than they did before.

Some of you may know some of what I’m going to write, but I don’t think I’ve ever written it completely out at one time.

Here’s my response:  Odd One Out

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A restaurant with no checks

Some folks may wonder why I so often link to the Christian Science Monitor.  It’s simply one of the best deep-reporting newspapers in the world, is why, and those folks understand dharma, whether they know it or not.  Witness this article…

Berkeley, Calif. – Patrons of Karma Kitchen don’t need to fight for the check at the end of a meal. There isn’t one. Instead, the “guests” of this restaurant are handed a gold envelope with a handwritten note on the outside that says, “Have a lovely evening.” Inside a bookmarker-sized card states: “In the spirit of generosity, someone who came before you made a gift of this meal. We hope you will continue the circle of giving in your own way!”

A restaurant with no checks |

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Think Outside The Bottle — Take The Pledge

Bottled water corporations are changing the very way people think about water. Though many bottled water brands come from the same source as public tap water, they are marketed as somehow more pure. What’s more – bottled water corporations sell water back to the public at thousands of times the cost. Plastic bottles also require massive amounts of fossil fuels to manufacture and transport. Billions of these bottles wind up in landfills every year.

You can help reverse this trend. At events and over online networks tens of thousands are supporting the efforts of local officials to reduce the social impact and environmental harm of bottled water by prioritizing public water systems. Taking the Think Outside the Bottle Pledge is quick, easy, and sends the message that water is a human right, not a commodity.    Take the pledge!

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Descendants of a plantation’s masters and slaves come together to recount history – and forge family bonds.

Lakeport, Ark. – Richard Johnson and Harry Taylor have spent their adult lives 1,100 miles apart – Mr. Johnson as a human-resources director in Texas, Mr. Taylor as a tool-and-dye maker in Kentucky. That’s not unusual for cousins. But Taylor is black; Johnson is white. And as the two men embrace today on a green Arkansas farm, under a Southern sun with bolls of cotton blowing in the breeze, the homestead in the background isn’t just any white colonial or red-brick ranch. Nor is this just any family reunion.

Lakeport is a plantation – a stark fact and a complex heritage that can evoke pride, shame, anger, fondness, and humiliation, often all at once. Over 150 years ago, African-American slaves carved this place from the forests that dotted the riverbanks, while white landowners moved into the stately “Big House,” which could be a backdrop for “Gone with the Wind.”

Now, as the two men pose for a picture at a rare reunion marking the reopening of the plantation, Johnson hugs Taylor.

“You never know who you’re related to,” Taylor says with a laugh.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

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Change Your Mind — How to Meditate – wikiHow

Many folks think meditation is difficult, or that you have to be religious.  Not true.  This article simplifies and demystifies it nicely.

Meditating a few minutes each day is a proven stress reducer,
and it can improve your view of life as well. There are as many
different meditation methods as there are instructors (for
meditation), but if all you need is a basic, universal method,
here’s an easy way to start.

How to Meditate – wikiHow